The Velvet Lounge
Exotica Heroes and Easy Listening Troubadours
The title says it all: The 'Velvet Lounge' is a remarkable re-release series for all things elegant, entertaining, and sometimes even exotic. This addition presents itself as a comfortable and welcoming home for terrific treasures from the fabulous Fifties and the strange Sixties. A mark of quality for all kinds of audio-finds from long ago and far away.
From a time and place between Rock- and Beat- ecstasy and psychedelic populism. These signs of the times come to us straight from the archives of the record-companies. Larger as well as a small labels, re-mastered in excellent quality. Of course, most often as a direct digitalization of a master-tape. Sometimes as a recording from an acetate, always with the best possible sound. If what you hear is what you get, the artists’ names alone make the series proud.
The Motto Was "Anything Goes"
The listener is more than tempted to relax into these recordings, to just enjoy and savor them. While maybe putting up his and/or her feet, and slowly stirring a long-drink. When Earthy Kitt, for example, "the most exciting woman in the world" according to Orson Welles, does her purring 'thang' on the album 'St. Louis Blues', alongside legendary West-Coast-trumpeter Milton 'Shorty' Rogers with an extravagantly exciting (and highly entertaining) Blues-program.
Or when Shorty’s trumpeting colleague Al 'Jumbo' Hirt dedicates himself to a sort of 'symbolization in sound' of sex-bomb Ann Margaret, some twenty years his junior, on songs like My Baby Just Cares For Me or Baby, It’s Cold Outside on the album 'Personalities'. Despite numerical evidence to the contrary, Jazz was not a four-letter-word back then, and even Entertainment did not smell funny, yet. The motto was "anything goes" rather than "is that allowed?".
Sam Butera, Louis Prima and Keely Smith
This artistic free-for-all and its high-quality craftsmanship included songs that had every right to be called standards. As well as arrangements, which not only showcased the abilities of some of the best studio-musicians of their time. But also of their authors, artist-arrangers like Marty Paich or Juan Esquivel, for instance.
Some of the couples involved had legal ties and binds as well. Like Louis Prima and his wife Keely Smith from New Orleans, who make sense of the album-title 'Jump, Jive An’ Wail!' along with their trusted saxophonist Sam Butera. (It goes without saying, that this album includes the maniacal medley of Just A Gigolo/ I Ain’t Got Nobody that turned the 'Wild One' into a chart-storming household name.) Apart from the ears, the 'Velvet Lounge' also delights your stomach muscles, at least those you need for extensive laughter.
On 'What were they thinking?', an overdue compilation with all kinds of 'odd couples', pleasure becomes a principle and the absurd gets to be ordinary. Country-Stars meet Exotica-heroes or Easy-Listening-troubadours, Pop-crooners like Perry Como are coupled with the Sons Of The Pioneers, and even Lotte Lenya, Kurt Weill‘s wife (and Bertolt Brecht‘s favorite mime), gets to share some hilarious studio-time with the sensational Louis Armstrong. As the series and its releases are Bear-Family-members, it is a given that the graphic design is also perfectly fitting and fittingly perfect. Featuring rare original photographs, exact discographies, and extensive liner notes. Everything about this series has a tendency for exuberance, and more than a touch of audiophile luxury.
From the collecting specialist to the cultural crusader – everyone feels most welcome and at home in this 'Velvet Lounge'.